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Page last updated at 19:47 GMT, Saturday, 31 October 2009

Benitez defends Torres withdrawal

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez (right) gives striker Fernando Torres a pat on the back after substituting him in the defeat by Fulham
Torres (left) was substituted for Ryan Babel (right) at Fulham

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has defended substituting striker Fernando Torres in their 3-1 defeat by Fulham.

Torres has been nursing a groin injury and was taken off with the scores at 1-1 ahead of the crucial Champions League game at Lyon on Wednesday.

"It is a big risk if you keep a player playing if he has this problem so we wanted to protect Torres as we knew it could be worse for him," said Benitez.

"If you lose the player for 20 minutes it is better than for one month."

Torres played 80 minutes in the win over Manchester United last Sunday and was rested for the midweek defeat at Arsenal for a lack of fitness before returning to the starting line-up against Fulham.

He equalised for Liverpool but was taken off after 62 minutes at Craven Cottage.

Red cards were harsh - Benitez

"We knew that we had to change him," added the Spaniard, who also took off Yossi Benayoun late on. "In the last game he played 80 minutes and needed four days to recover.

"He was always training with pain. We knew that we had to change him but it was a question of when and we did it at the moment we did. I think that it was best for him."

However, Fulham forward Bobby Zamora cited Torres's exit as a possibly pivotal moment in the game for his side.

"He's one of the best strikers in the world and to see him go off the pitch is a massive boost for us and maybe even gave us another gear," he said.

The Reds had right-back Philipp Degen and centre-back Jamie Carragher sent-off within three minutes after going 2-1 down and Benitez insisted both were wrongly dismissed by referee Lee Mason.

606: DEBATE

Degen was sent off for a late lunge on Clint Dempsey, while Carragher got his marching orders for a professional foul on Zamora.

"I think the two sending offs were very harsh," said Benitez. "The first one could be a yellow card and for the second one Carragher definitely kicked the ball.

"Zamora was also saying he kicked the ball and we have to analyse this because it is a situation that saw us playing with nine players."

Benitez was also left bemused by the way his team let the game slip away from the after dominating the first half.

"We were in control at 1-1 and I was really surprised we made these mistakes," he added.

Carragher wants ref to review red card

The Reds boss was especially frustrated by Fulham's second goal when Dirk Kuyt kept the ball in only for the home side to earn possession and score.

"The second goal was a massive mistake and then shortly afterwards was the first red card.

"Today the main thing for me is 'how can you lose control of a game you are controlling everything of in the first half? That is something we have to analyse.

"Everyone involved has to take responsibility.

"We have to now prepare for the next game and try to lift the players to give them confidence.

"We have an important game in the Champions League and then we will have to continue in the Premier League."

Roy Hodgson

We deserved victory - Hodgson

Fulham boss Roy Hodgson believes his side deserved victory after having limited the threat of Liverpool and Torres while he was on the pitch.

"I'd like to think that people would be generous enough to say that it was a very good second half performance," said Hodgson.

"I thought apart from the goal we defended very well and our goalkeeper was largely untroubled.

"At the other end, especially in the second half, we created a lot of chances and could have had a penalty on another day."



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see also
Hodgson refuses to write off Reds
01 Nov 09 |  Fulham
Fulham 3-1 Liverpool
31 Oct 09 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
31 Oct 09 |  Football
Red cards were harsh - Benitez
31 Oct 09 |  Liverpool
We deserved victory - Hodgson
31 Oct 09 |  Fulham
Carragher wants ref to review red card
31 Oct 09 |  Liverpool
Zamora happy to silence critics
31 Oct 09 |  Fulham


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